Above photo: Delgadillo’s Sno Cap in Seligman, Arizona
On November 12, 2015, I ended my Route 66 trek westward due to freezing temperatures. I left Interstate 40 in Flagstaff, dropping down to I-10 and continuing west to Palm Springs. You can find The Route 66 Journal here.
Due to the detour, I did not get to see the Arizona towns between Williams and Oatman, or any of Route 66 in California. I got a second chance last week. I picked up Interstate 40 eastbound in Needles, California, passing through Needles; Kingman, Arizona; and Seligman, Arizona.
Driving The Mother Road again, five months after the original journey, I could not muster my prior enthusiasm. In 2015 I found much of the route in decay, through small towns barely hanging on by selling souvenirs. While expected, it was all rather depressing. This portion of the route was equally so.
There’s very little to see in Needles, and fuel is a whopping one dollar more per gallon – unleaded and diesel. Needles has a captive audience headed west, because there are a few gas stations for about 100 miles. I did see one of the cool Route 66 logos on the road surface (pardon the rainy windshield):
And drove by the famous Wagon Wheel Diner, where there was another insignia on the asphalt:
Just outside of town is an iconic motel/pool sign and a Whiting Brothers gas station sign, though the buildings are long gone:
Driving into Kingman, looking at the red rock formations along the highway, I got the distinct impression that the town of Radiator Springs in the movie “Cars” was modeled on the area.
Route 66 through Kingman is known as Andy Devine Avenue.
Don’t know who Andy Devine is? I know I had to look him up. Kingman reached way back into an almost obscure past to find a native son. Andy Devine was a character actor and cowboy sidekick in such famous westerns as “Stagecoach” and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” I’ll have to watch them both again.
Kingman is doing a good job preserving and promoting its Route 66 history.
There is a Route 66 museum in town, with an antique Santa Fe steam engine on display across the road. Kingman has several wonderful vintage hotels and signs:
and some good mid-century architecture.
In Seligman there are fewer landmarks and vintage signs and more souvenir shops. You are more likely to find a new Route 66 Motel:
or a new Route 66 diner:
than a classic one. Still, there were a few good old neons:
including this beauty that was on the way out of town.
My short return to The Mother Road has convinced me that I desire very little more of it. If I’m passing through Missouri or parts east of Oklahoma City I may try again, as it seems that the towns in the Midwest have done a better job of preserving and restoring their Route 66 heritage.